STANDISH — The ball hadn’t even left Corey McNamara’s hand when his teammates started spilling out of the St. Joseph’s College dugout. By the time it settled into first baseman Brett Barbati’s glove for the game’s final out, the celebration was in full force.

The Monks won their fifth consecutive Great Northeast Athletic Conference baseball championship Sunday afternoon, riding the pitching of Joe Gruntkosky and McNamara to beat top-ranked Suffolk University 2-0 at Mahaney Diamond. The championship also secured St. Joseph’s fifth consecutive berth in the NCAA Division III tournament, which doesn’t begin until May 15.

The Monks have won six of the last seven GNAC championships – all by beating Suffolk in the finals.

“They’re a real good team,” said Will Sanborn, in his 22nd season as St. Joseph’s head coach. “They don’t beat themselves. They play good defense. They pitch well and they’ve got a tough lineup.”

Kind of sounds like Sanborn’s own club.

The Monks (23-12) make all the little plays. They get good pitching. And they don’t beat themselves.

Moreover, they have dominated the GNAC because they are committed to everything they do.

“I really think it’s the commitment level of the guys we get,” said Sanborn. “And then how they develop that once they’re here. Certainly we get good leadership along the way.

“But they put a lot into it. As a result they care a lot about it. That pays off in those times in the weight room when they could be doing other things, the practices, all the hard work on the field. We get a pretty high level of commitment.”

And it’s not just to the program, but to each other. The Monks believe they are going to make the plays.

McNamara was named the tournament MVP after he pitched three shutout innings Sunday, allowing just one hit, for his second save in two days. He pitched three scoreless and hitless innings Saturday to save a winners’ bracket game against Suffolk.

“He’s got ice in his veins,” said Gruntkosky, who allowed four hits in six shutout innings to beat the Rams for the second time in nine days. “He wasn’t named tournament MVP for nothing. Every time he came out there he shut the door and I knew he was going to do the same today.”

McNamara said the Monks have that same confidence in everyone on the roster.

“We play confident,” he said. “We focus on the little things and don’t beat ourselves. We try to let other teams make the mistakes, and play a clean game. And we’ve got a lot of great players, so that makes it a little easier.”

Suffolk advanced to the championship game by beating Johnson & Wales 11-3 in 13 innings in the first game on Sunday. The Rams scored eight unearned runs with two outs in the top of the 13th. Gruntkosky knew what he had to do.

“I felt good,” he said. “I knew all I had to do was come out and throw strikes to help my team win. And once I got high in the pitch count I knew Corey would go in and shut the door.”

The game stayed close because Suffolk starter Frank Tierney nearly matched Gruntkosky pitch for pitch.

It was scoreless entering the bottom of the fifth when, with one out, Tierney lost control of the strike zone, walking three consecutive batters. Nic Lops knocked in the first run with a grounder to first.

Then in the seventh, the Monks struck again. Taylor Black led off with a single and was sacrificed to second by Max McCoomb. Louie Vigers then laced a 2-2 pitch into right-center field, and Black came in with the second run.

“I fouled off my first two pitches, I figured he’d come in with a fastball,” said Vigers. “Belt high, I took advantage, got right on top of it. I did exactly what I needed to do.”

That’s the way the Monks operate. They bunt the runner over. They hit the cut-off man.

“We’re all about small ball,” said Vigers.

And, he added, against Suffolk the Monks have to play that way.

“Against them, especially in the GNAC championship, it always come down to one or two runs,” said Vigers. “You’ve got to treat it like it’s just another game, you can’t hype it up because it’s the championship.”

Maybe, but it sure felt good to the players to win the title on their home field and to extend their championship streak.

“Four for four,” said Vigers, a senior center fielder. “I’ll take that. That’s something special. Not many kids can say they were a champion every year.”

Mike Lowe can be reached at 791-6422 or at:

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Twitter: MikeLowePPH